Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

Kant Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

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Unformatted text preview: The Ideas that it involves cannot be applied in experience, nor can its propositions ever be confirmed or refuted by experience. If any errors creep into the employment of reason, they will have to be discovered by pure reason itself ·because neither sensibility nor understanding can have anything to do with them·. For reason thus to stand guard over itself is very difficult, because the reason that is standing guard is the very faculty that is necessarily prone to intellectual illusions, and we have no firm objectively grounded procedure for avoiding them - only a subjective enquiry into reason itself as a source of Ideas. Section 43 My chief aim in the Critique was not only to distinguish carefully the several sorts of knowledge but also to derive from their common source the concepts belonging to each of them. I did this so that by knowing the origins of these concepts I could settle how they might safely be used; and it also gave me the priceless though unexpected advantage of knowing, a priori and in a principled way, that Ÿmy list of concepts, and Ÿmy classification and Ÿdescriptions of them, are complete. Without this, everything in metaphysics is a mere 50 jumble, in which you never know whether you have enough ·for your purpose·, or whether and where something is still lacking. This advantage is the very essence of pure philosophy, and is not to be had anywhere else. I have derived the twelve categories - the four trios of pure concepts of the understanding - from a classification of kinds of judgment that can be made. The concepts of reason are three in number, and they derive from a classification not of judgments but of logical arguments - specifically, the three kinds of inferences of reason. For these pure concepts of reason (the transcendental Ideas) are given - we simply do have them - and if one doesn’t want to regard them as something like innate, the only source that can be found for them is the activity of reason. That activity in its concern with logical form constitutes the logical element of the inferences of reason; but it also involves recognizing judgments of the understanding as involving this or that a priori form of judgment, and in this role it yields transcendental concepts of pure reason. The basic sorts of argument are: categorical, conditional, and disjunctive. [A categorical argument is one whose first premise is of the form ‘(Subject) is (Predicate)’; a conditional one has a premise of the form ‘If P, then Q’; a disjunctive one has one of the form ‘Either P or Q’.] ·Each Idea involves the thought of a kind of completeness·. So the Ideas - the concepts of pure reason - are as follows. ŸCategorical: the Idea of a complete subject (the Idea of what is substantial); this is the Idea of an ultimate ‘thing which . . .’, like Locke’s idea of substance in general·; this Idea is psychological ·because the natural home ground of this thought is in application to oneself: I am a thing which· . . .’. ŸConditional: the Idea of a complete series of conditions - ·e.g. the thought of all the causes of the present state of the world·; this Idea is cosmological. ŸDisjunctive: the Idea of a complete reality that somehow encompasses the entire range of what is possible; this Idea is theological.10 All three give rise to dialectics - ·that is, to characteristic dangers of intellectual illusion, insoluble problems, lurking contradictions, and the like·. But their ways of doing so are different, and so we have - ·corresponding to the trio Ÿcategorical, Ÿconditional, and Ÿdisjunctive· - a three-part division of the dialects of pure reason into its ŸParalogism, its ŸAntinomy, and its ŸIdeal. Through this way of coming at things we can feel assured that all the claims of pure reason are completely represented, nothing missed, because we have completely surveyed the faculty of reason itself, from which they all take their origin. Section 44 It should be borne in mind that the Ideas of reason, unlike the categories, are of no use to us in bringing the understanding to bear on experience. In the knowledge of nature by the -----------------------------------10 In disjunctive judgments we consider the whole range of what is possible as divided in respect to some particular concept. The ontological principle that every object falls under one or the other out of each contradictory pair of predicates, which is also the principle of all disjunctive judgments, essentially relies on this thought of the sum of all possibility - which goes with the thought that every possible object is completely determinate, ·because it falls under just one out of each contradictory pair of predicates·. . . . 51 understanding, the Ideas of reason are entirely dispensable; indeed they are a positive obstacle to what is going on. (They have, however, their own good use, which we shall come to later.) ŸThe psychological Idea of reason brings up the question ‘Is the soul a simple substance or not?’ The answer to that is of no interest when we are doing empirical psychology. No possible experience could be evidence for eith...
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This note was uploaded on 03/12/2013 for the course PHIL 105 taught by Professor Mendetta during the Spring '13 term at SUNY Stony Brook.

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